Healthy home snack options for children aged 1-5 years
Expert Stories | Mrs. Shayana Ameresekere MHumNutr (Aus) RNutr(Aus) Nutritionist
As parents we always want to provide the most wholesome and nutrient rich meals for our children, however also as parents we usually find ourselves to be more often than not stressed and time poor.
Snacks tend to make up a large part of our child's daily intake. Therefore it is important for parents to understand what nutrients are required on a daily basis and how you can plan to provide healthy home snacks for your little ones.
I always encourage parents to offer your children the same healthy foods that you and the rest of your family enjoy on a daily basis. This should include foods with different textures and flavours to help avoid the development of food aversions and to expose your little ones to various consistencies of food. When preparing healthy home snacks try not to include additional salt or sugar, or if you find you must include such ingredients try to use a healthier substitute, for example honey as opposed to white refined sugar. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).
Your healthy home snacks should ideally include a variety of:
- Whole grains
- Vegetables and fruits. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).
What are some healthy snack ideas for younger children aged 1-3 years?
- Whole grain cereal or oatmeal with milk which is a great source of fibre and calcium.
- Bite-sized pieces of cooked protein such as beef, chicken or tofu and soft cooked or roasted vegetables, providing a variety of protein and micronutrients.
- Milk or yogurt-based fruit mini smoothies, a good source of calcium.
- Plain yogurt with pieces of soft fresh fruit, rich in calcium and micronutrients.
- Grated or small cubes of cheese with whole grain crackers, high in fibre and calcium.
- A small whole grain muffin with fresh fruit, muffins are quite popular with children because it is almost like a ‘cake’ children like to eat it so this is a great opportunity to add a lot of fruit or vegetables into a sweet or savoury muffin.
- Small amount of peanut butter on whole grain bread or whole grain crackers, a great source of protein, healthy fats and fibre.
- Mashed avocado on whole grain toast or whole grain crackers, this is rich in healthy fats and fibre.
- Yogurt and/or fruit popsicles, a healthy fun treat which is tasty and rich in a variety of vitamins depending on the fruits you choose to use. I find citrus fruits or berries work particularly well for this option.
- Whole grain pita bread or homemade roti and bean dip. This is
What are some healthy snack options for older children aged 3-5 years?
- Sandwich triangles made with egg, tuna or chicken salad, served with a little bit of chopped fruit as a healthy sweet.
- Hummus, whole wheat pita and raw vegetables as a dipping option.
- Brown or whole wheat pasta with cooked pieces of fish and peas, which serve as a good source of protein and fibre.
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles topped with thinly spread peanut butter, honey or fruit.
- Mini omelettes or scrambled eggs, this is a nice option if you find you need to disguise vegetables for your child this can be easily mixed into the eggs. If your child is still hungry a small slice of whole grain toast is a good accompaniment.
- Cooked tofu pieces, sweet potatoes and whole grain pasta.
- Whole grain tortillas filled with beans or ground meat and some fresh tomatoes or tomato paste for taste.
- Whole grain macaroni and cheese. You can add tuna and peas for added protein to this option which already is rich in calcium, fibre and carbohydrates for energy.
- Whole grain pasta with tomato or meat sauce.
- Chicken, beef, pork or tofu cut in small pieces stir-fried with soft cooked vegetables and a small spoon full of red rice.
- Baked beans with soft taco or whole grain toast.
- Mini home made pizza with vegetables and a protein meat of your choice.
Healthy home made snacks are a great way to top up your child’s nutrient requirements throughout the day, just remember to keep it simple, wholesome and interesting for them.